|Charles Neil explains the construction process.|
We started by building the base, which incorporated tapered legs and openings for a drawer and pull-out shelf. Then, using Charles' signature dovetail template, which uses special Whiteside bits with narrow necks to simulate hand-cut dovetails, we dovetailed the case.
|Cutting the dovetails in the case.|
|The finished pieces, ready to||finish.|
By the end of the three days, we each had an assembled base, a glued-up case body, a drawer, a shelf and a lid to take home and finish.
Finishing involved laying down a trace coat of brown dye, sanding to 120 grit with a random orbit sander, trace coating a second time and sanding to 180 grit, then staining the piece with a New England mixture of water based dye. The trace coats let you see what needs to be sanded and, by soaking into the soft grain, it helps "pop" the curl in the maple.
Finally, using a new Apollo spray gun I sprayed five coats of General Finishes High Performance satin water-based finish, scuffing lightly between coats and applying the last two coats in quick succession so they would bond together and create a tough top coat. Finally, I buffed the piece with a slightly soapy solution using a random orbit sander and Abralon sanding pads, 2000 and 3000 grit, which left a buttery smooth satin finish on the piece.
|The finished sugar chest.|
The final step was to assemble the parts into a whole. The result was spectacular. I learned a lot in the process of building this piece and am proud to have it on display in my dining room.
Charles periodically offers this class. If you are interested in taking the class, which is held at his New Market, Virginia, workshop, check his web site or contact him to let him know you are interested. Charles also produced a DVD on building the sugar chest, but I believe it is now out of production. However, it would be worth contacting him to see if he has any remaining copies.
Whatever you are building, have fun doing it!